THE FACTS ABOUT VWD
Tests for coagulation time give results that show that particular animal's clotting time at the time the test is done. A normal coagulation test does not guarantee that the dog will not have a bleeding problem at a future date.
The best method for testing clotting time is a buccal mucosal test, wherein the dog's lip is cut with a special spring loaded device and the clotting time observed. Dogs even with severe coagulation factor deficiencies usually have normal lip bleeding times. For this reason it is important to test clotting times immediately before any surgery. Remember that this gives you only the picture of clotting ability at that particular point in time. A previously diagnosed (multiple episodes) clinical bleeder tested normal on this clot test before
anesthetic and again immediately after he was under, and his neuter was unremarkable. This dog had been transfused with one unit of plasma sixty minutes prior to the surgery as a precaution. However, thirty six hours later he began bleeding from the incision site, a bleed that would ultimately last fourteen days and require the animal to be sedated for three weeks until the stitches could be safely removed.
What can I do to Protect my Dog and Minimize the Risk?
Keep your dog fit and healthy. Illness and injury are stressful and remember that stress has been linked to episodes of excessive bleeding in some dogs. Have your adult dog's thyroid function checked periodically.
Get a hold of some silver nitrate sticks. In the States they can be ordered from mail order pet catalogues. They are very handy to have on hand in case you nick a quick on a toenail and the bleeding just won't stop. In Canada you may have to buy them from your vet, if he is willing sell them to you. They need to be kept in their protective sleeve, preferably in the refrigerator. You can also ask him to prescribe a 1% silver nitrate solution that you can dab onto scrapes if they won't stop oozing. A pharmacist can make it up for you but may need a day or so to do it.
Do not ever give a suspected bleeder aspirin, as it thins the blood and is contraindicated in dogs considered to be at risk for bleeding due to vWD. Explore other options with your vet.
If you have a dog that has been diagnosed with clinical vWD, do not despair. Your dog can lead a very normal and happy life. They can (and should) even still be neutered, if this is not already the case. Heat cycles are a considerable stress on a bitch's system, and an un-neutered male around bitches in heat (even in the park or out and about) can get pretty worked up. Also, an un-neutered male dog is more likely to be targeted by other dogs wanting to fight.
Page 2: When it Appears - Page 4: Prior to Surgery